Leaving a spinal unit and returning to the wider community: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Jul;35(14):1164-73. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.723789. Epub 2012 Oct 5.


Purpose: The study investigated the experience of community (re)integration from the perspective of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) within 12 months of discharge from a specialist spinal injuries unit in New Zealand (NZ).

Method: Nine participants were interviewed. The verbatim transcripts were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Results: Three main themes were: Leaving, Not Coping with a Capital C, and Power and Control. Leaving related to the process of planning for, and discharge from the spinal unit. Not Coping with a Capital C incorporated the coping and adjustment to life following a SCI, including the role of hope. Power and Control denoted the alteration in balance of power and control following SCI which was evident both in the rehabilitation facility and within the wider community setting.

Conclusions: The results indicated that the spinal unit may not adequately equip the recovering person with SCI for life in the real world. Individuals with SCI returning to the community remained hopeful of recovery of function and or cure; this focus, particularly on physical rehabilitation, potentially reduced their availability for other forms of community reintegration such as work and leisure activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Patient Discharge
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Perception
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires